Statement: IHRDA condemns unlawful arrest and detention of Dr Ismaila Ceesay, calls on Gambia Gov’t to uphold its human rights obligations

Banjul, 1 February 2018

IHRDA condemns the unlawful arrest and detention of Political Scientist, Dr Ismaila Ceesay, by The Gambia Police on 31 January 2018 for expressing an opinion on national security, published in The Voice Newspaper.

According to the paper, Dr Ceesay had suggested in an interview that it was important for the President of the Republic to win the trust of the local army, in a bid to ensure long-term security in the country, as the presence of regional forces in the country does not necessarily guarantee such security.

We do not think there is any substantive element of this opinion that poses a national security threat or that could lead to destruction or damage of any property, as he was charged with.

IHRDA finds this act of Government in contravention of the rights protected under the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia, such as the right to freedom of expression and the right to personal liberty, which are equally protected under regional and international treaties to which The Gambia is a party.

We wish to remind Government of The Gambia of its human rights obligations and commitments, which have recently been reiterated by H.E. President Adama Barrow, notably during the opening of the 61st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on 1 November 2017, and at the award of his honorary doctorate of Law and Human Rights by The University of The Gambia on 15 January 2018.

IHRDA therefore calls on Government of The Gambia to respect its human rights obligations, and to continue taking steps towards upholding democratic values in the New Gambia.

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